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FEATURE STORYMarch 8, 2022

Creating a Sustainable Tomorrow in Thailand: Koranis Tanangsnakool

Koranis Tanangsnakool is co-founder of ReReef

For International Women’s Day 2022, we’re talking with women leaders across East Asia and the Pacific who are advancing gender equality today to help create a more sustainable future for all. Koranis Tanangsnakool is the co-founder of ReReef, an environmental enterprise, which advocates for practical solutions to the world's most pressing environmental problems and accelerates the changes in public awareness and behavior regarding the impacts from human activities on marine ecosystems, starting with single-use plastic.
What inspired you to start working as an environment advocate?

Because our planet is at risk. Our own activities have caused us to experience higher temperatures, more frequent floods, the extinction of species, and extensive wildfires across many parts of the globe. Communication can contribute to raising awareness and behavior change, as well as contributing to collective actions that drive policy change and more responsible business practices.

I co-founded ReReef in hope that it could be a platform for providing information on the world's environmental problems, as well as sharing ideas and experience towards sustainability. I believe that people will conserve what they appreciate. We need to understand that we are all part of the problem and can be part of the solution.

If you could describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?

Motivated, Persistent, Encouraging.

This year's theme is 'Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow'. In your eyes, what is the intersection between climate change and gender equality?

On climate change, we discuss the future generations’ rights to thrive in a healthy environment. While on gender equality, the rights of those who are not in a favorable situation have not been addressed. On both issues, conventional approaches have failed to include unheard voices.

The impact of this, in most cases, is on voiceless people. Not only do women face higher risks of the impacts of climate change than men; but when natural disasters occur, women have not been taken into consideration in the planning or decision-making processes. This mechanism that overlooks the needs of women and other genders make it difficult for them to adapt to climate change.

As a leader in Thailand, how do you feel about climate change and what needs to change?

Climate change is one of the most pressing problems of our time. To tackle such complex issues, we need diversity and a wide range of perspectives. Equal representation – with the inclusion of vulnerable groups – would help us to perform more effectively; not only on the environmental agenda, but also on humanitarian issues caused by climate change.

What have been the biggest lessons you have learned as a leader?

All leaders started from day one; when there were no supporters, no followers, and they were full of doubts. If they had given up on what they believed, they would not have made any change.

What do you think needs to be done to ensure more women end up in leadership positions in Thailand?

I think there are lots of barriers preventing women from leadership positions; whether from roles in government, business, leading organizations, and the community. Barriers are in many forms, including biases, male-dominated cultures, and poor recruitment procedures. And a barrier is the limited opportunities for girls to access education in the first place.

We need to pay more attention to overcome these barriers to ensure that women will be equally represented in leadership roles.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

My work has brought countless meaningful discussions with lots of like-minded people. We have shared ideas, and some simple conversations over lunch have led to collaborations in many activities and environmental campaigns. It also brought me opportunities to try many other roles: entrepreneur, columnist, researcher, lecturer and campaigner.

Do you have any advice for young women who aspire to become a leader like you?

It requires hard work, determination, and persistence. Just because you don’t see many women in leadership roles, doesn’t mean you can’t be one.

What can we do better to improve or accelerate gender equality?

Our ideas about gender have been shaped by the media. It often shows us stereotypes of how women and men are supposed to look, to act, and to treat others. This idea is harmful and obstruct gender equality.

We can help creating space where gender equality can grow by starting in daily life – at work, at home, in our community – rejecting biases or stereotypical attitudes, dividing household chores equally, and raising voices to support equal opportunities and rights.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I will continue my journey contributing to conserving nature. I look forward to strengthening my existing network and exploring new partnerships to encompass broader groups of people. I hope that ReReef can continue its role as a platform for communication and exchange of ideas.

**The views expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank Group.


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